Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Browland » Feb 10th 2011, 2:27 am

Bacchante wrote:I also initially thought it wasn't an actual room, but then the boyfriend got me doubting myself. You're probably right though... Yet he does seem rather comfortable there, as if it's his own personal space.
Wherever he is, it struck me that it's sad that Jordan's alone on Christmas.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Browland » May 31st 2011, 3:09 pm

I had trouble with how Patty and Graham reacted to Rickie's situation at first. If your daughter's friend shows up at your house looking beat up, wouldn't you at least try to talk to him and find out what's going on? I know Rickie bolted before they could speak to him, but they said there was no way he could stay at their house, even for the night, even when Angela says she thinks he has nowhere else to go. That just seems cold to me.

Part of me wonders if their hesitance in getting involved had to do with Rickie being a boy (and maybe his dress and makeup always made them uncomfortable around him). If it were Rayanne or Sharon who showed up with a bruised face, I imagine they would have had a stronger reaction. Maybe they found it easier to ignore or justify violence towards a boy than a girl, thinking, well sometimes boys get in fights at school, it's probably nothing serious.

But still, it made me upset that they wouldn't listen to Angela's concerns at first. Rickie wasn't just some random kid on the street; he was their daughter's best friend. I would hope most adults would have some protective feelings toward their children's friends and feel some responsibility if they suspected abuse/problems at home. I couldn't just say, well, it's not our place to get involved, it's not our business. That's what people used to think, before child abuse and domestic abuse started receiving more attention. Did anyone else think Patty and Graham didn't handle Rickie's problem well initially?

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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Jody Barsch* » Jun 1st 2011, 1:43 am

I think even Graham and Patty think they didn't initially handle it well. I think you got it exactly right -- I think that it had a lot to do with Rickie being a guy. Patty's first thought wasn't that it was a case of domestic abuse, but that RIckie was "in some kind of trouble". They would not have thought that about the girl friends, or like how Graham later points out, about Brian.
Patty is uncomfortable about Rickie, and in the moment, taken by surprise as she is, she doesn't seem to consider that she's already misjudged him once with the alcohol. When I started this post I was going to say that Patty at this point still didn't know Rickie very well, as he wasn't at their house very much, but as I've been typing I'm remembering: he was there during the fashion show, talking with Patty about Mary Quant, and he attended the 50th anniversary party after spending time with Patty in the hospital that night. It does seem like Patty (and Graham) should have known Rickie well enough at that point to give him the benefit of the doubt. I just think that this is so far out of their realm of experience, or what they ever expected to be a part of, that they don't know how to deal with it, and not wanting their daughter to be a part of it, or have to deal with it -- whatever 'it' is -- their instinct is to push it away, to shut it out. It clearly wasn't the right decision, and Graham and Patty clearly later agree with this, but I don't know that that we can entirely fault them for their reaction.
Not that it's here or there, but I don't know that at that point the parents would have considered Rickie one of Angela's best friends.


Going back to the Catalano candle scene, I do think it's the loft, because it does look like it to me, but also because a.) while Catalano may have holes in his shirts, and not have a great dad, I don't think he lives under the stairs like Harry Potter, and b.) I doubt the show would dress a new set for less than thirty seconds of screen time.
I don't know how I feel about Jordan all alone lighting the candle. While we might not have learned about Jordan's love for Angela, "RED" did tell us that rather than his home, Jordan sees his car as a "shelter", that late at night he very well may be out on the road rather than at home (we see this during the New Years countdown). Through that and other moments throughout the series, the show establishes that Jordan often chooses solitude.
I think the scene would have worked, maybe even better, if the shot was of Jordan at a party, or with friends in the loft, etc., but off on his own, like in the pilot, and lighting a candle there. It seems like it wouldn't exploit his isolation, an might make the lighting of the candle all the more deliberate. (Assuming that this would say the same thing that the show was trying to get across in the solo scene, it would again be an issue of money -- paying for extras, etc.)
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Bacchante » Jun 2nd 2011, 12:55 pm

On the Patty and Graham not handling the Rickie situation well: I really hope that if I were a parent, I wouldn't handle the situation like they did. But I think their reaction helps emphasize the contrast/conflict between families of different social classes, so that this conflict can be resolved magnificently in the end :) Apart from that, I think it also comes to how brave you are-- while taking a person in this sort of situation could expose you to some risk, he is a child, so do you do the ultimately right thing, or do you do the right thing in a narrower context, which is to protect your own child?

Regarding Jordan in the loft alone: That scene actually really worked for me. While Jordan by himself at a party would probably match the rest of the show better in spirit, I think this scene was intended to be different-- which might be what you meant by "exploit his isolation". And I guess the whole episode was more naive and "cheesy" than the rest of them, so I think this scene is excusably cute or touching or whatever.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Jody Barsch* » Jun 3rd 2011, 12:22 am

Yea, I totally don't dislike the scene. I like what it says about Jordan -- that he recognizes in himself his tendency to be cynical, or at least flippant, and that that's not who he wants to be, so he's open enough to give something new a try. (Wow, that sounds a lot like his relationship with Angela.)
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Browland wrote:I sure hope so! Although we really know next to nothing about Jordan's family life, except that his dad used to hit him.
Do we also know that his mother died, or is this someone's interpretation?
This is really old, so probably mute now, but, yeah, that would have been somebody's interpretation because the show never mentions Jordan's mother, only his "old man" and his uncle who survived once choking on a chicken bone. In my fanfic his mother left when he was 8. But who knows. She could totally be present in his life.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Superjesus » Jul 15th 2011, 5:20 am

Browland wrote:
Bacchante wrote:I also initially thought it wasn't an actual room, but then the boyfriend got me doubting myself. You're probably right though... Yet he does seem rather comfortable there, as if it's his own personal space.
Wherever he is, it struck me that it's sad that Jordan's alone on Christmas.
I think he's alone by choice. Even though he has his friends, Jordan seems to be a guy who appreciates his solitude.

As for the room, I just assume it was his space - wherever it was. I would assume that he still lives at home (because we haven't heard anything to the contrary) and maybe that's just the loft of his house where he goes to hang out when he wants some peace and quiet.

Regarding the episode, I have one question - do we know that Juliana Hatfield has been dead and an angel the whole episode? My interpretation (a little Sixth Sense-y, but bear with me) was that she was alive up till the scene where Angela gives her her boots but is dead by the time she appears to Patty. I saw it as kind of a sad irony that she froze to death after receiving a new pair of shoes that were meant to keep the cold out.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Jody Barsch* » Jul 15th 2011, 5:35 am

Superjesus wrote:Regarding the episode, I have one question - do we know that Juliana Hatfield has been dead and an angel the whole episode? My interpretation (a little Sixth Sense-y, but bear with me) was that she was alive up till the scene where Angela gives her her boots but is dead by the time she appears to Patty. I saw it as kind of a sad irony that she froze to death after receiving a new pair of shoes that were meant to keep the cold out.
Hm... I never thought of it that way. I always thought she was dead the whole time. The episode's not super fresh in my head, but I believe while in the band room how she talks about not being in school and all that, it reads one way in the scene, and after the episode, looking back, it reads another -- that she's dead. Additionally, she kind of talks in this other-worldy way, is only seen by Patty and Angela, and seems a little omniscient when she talks about Rickie, and saying out of the blue, "You're Angela, right?" I think also the prayer voiceovers in the beginning, and the source material from It's a Wonderful Life always convinced me that she had never been alive in the episode, but it's interesting to think about.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Superjesus » Jul 15th 2011, 9:47 pm

Jody Barsch* wrote:
Superjesus wrote:Regarding the episode, I have one question - do we know that Juliana Hatfield has been dead and an angel the whole episode? My interpretation (a little Sixth Sense-y, but bear with me) was that she was alive up till the scene where Angela gives her her boots but is dead by the time she appears to Patty. I saw it as kind of a sad irony that she froze to death after receiving a new pair of shoes that were meant to keep the cold out.
Hm... I never thought of it that way. I always thought she was dead the whole time. The episode's not super fresh in my head, but I believe while in the band room how she talks about not being in school and all that, it reads one way in the scene, and after the episode, looking back, it reads another -- that she's dead. Additionally, she kind of talks in this other-worldy way, is only seen by Patty and Angela, and seems a little omniscient when she talks about Rickie, and saying out of the blue, "You're Angela, right?" I think also the prayer voiceovers in the beginning, and the source material from It's a Wonderful Life always convinced me that she had never been alive in the episode, but it's interesting to think about.
I suppose either view makes sense. I wonder if M Night Shyamalan was a MSCL fan.

I just interpreted her saying that she doesn't go to school anymore as a sign of her being homeless and not enrolled in school.

One other question about the phone sex scene (which is probably my favourite in the whole series). We know Rayanne recognises Brian's voice the moment he starts talking. Wouldn't Brian recognise Rayanne? Her voice is pretty distinctive (not many teenage girls have drunk enough to get that kind of rasp at that stage) and he seems to have an idea that this girl knows who he is ("Do you go to Liberty?"). Surely he could join the dots.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Mutajon » Jul 16th 2011, 4:29 am

Superjesus wrote: One other question about the phone sex scene (which is probably my favourite in the whole series). We know Rayanne recognises Brian's voice the moment he starts talking. Wouldn't Brian recognise Rayanne? Her voice is pretty distinctive (not many teenage girls have drunk enough to get that kind of rasp at that stage) and he seems to have an idea that this girl knows who he is ("Do you go to Liberty?"). Surely he could join the dots.
Yeah. I was wondering about that as well.
It seems the show "conveniently" ignored that fact for the sake of the scene, which is a pity since it makes the whole thing that much less credible...
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jul 17th 2011, 6:54 am

Maybe Brian was so stressed and freaked out that he wasn't paying enough attention to recognize Rayanne's voice. There are times when Brian is so self-centered that he doesn't notice what's going on around him.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by RCBS » Jul 19th 2011, 12:18 pm

Pasta.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Mutajon » Jul 19th 2011, 5:01 pm

I don't know, if the conversation was two sentences long I might have "bought" this explanation. But I'd say you have to be damn freaked out to not recognize a voice of someone you see and hear almost every day in a conversation the length that Brian and Rayann had...
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Superjesus » Jul 20th 2011, 5:39 am

Mutajon wrote:I don't know, if the conversation was two sentences long I might have "bought" this explanation. But I'd say you have to be damn freaked out to not recognize a voice of someone you see and hear almost every day in a conversation the length that Brian and Rayann had...
Yeah, I guess they just ignored this for the sake of comedy - and since it was a damn funny scene I'll forgive them for it.

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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Mutajon » Jul 20th 2011, 7:23 am

Superjesus wrote:
Mutajon wrote:I don't know, if the conversation was two sentences long I might have "bought" this explanation. But I'd say you have to be damn freaked out to not recognize a voice of someone you see and hear almost every day in a conversation the length that Brian and Rayann had...
Yeah, I guess they just ignored this for the sake of comedy - and since it was a damn funny scene I'll forgive them for it.
Agreed.
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Re: Discussion for Episode 15: So-Called Angels

Post by Superjesus » Jul 22nd 2011, 10:25 am

Something else to discuss here that just occurred to me.

In my last year of high school, the one term I went to class we read The Grapes of Wrath. Great book. Those who have read it will know the preacher, Jim Casy, and how he represents God and the Divine power in the story. His name in particular was deliberately chosen to show this, especially his initials - J.C., same as Jesus Christ.

Well, we all know who else has those initials, right?

Most of the series, Jordan is portrayed as somewhat selfish and not particularly concerned with others. This episode, however - we only see him three times, but the first two times we see him - somewhat uncharacteristically - going out of his way to help others (taking Rickie to Tennessee Avenue, taking Angela there to find him). The first scene, we see he doesn't have much truck for religion or Christmas rituals. Yet in the last scene, we see him lighting a candle.

Just something to think about. I'm not saying Jordan is Jesus or anything like that - but of all the characters in this episode, he seems to (along with Juliana Hatfield) represent the divine, the spiritual, just through his out of character actions.
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